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Cynthia Cooper-Dyke accused of verbal, emotional abuse in bombshell report

Former women’s basketball coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke allegedly was abusive toward players. (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former players have accused former women’s basketball coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke of “demeaning, demoralizing and abusive behavior,” according to a report from The Athletic’s Chantel Jennings and Dana O’Neil.

Players from throughout Cooper-Dyke’s coaching career told The Athletic that she made sexual and degrading comments and endangered athletes’ physical and mental well-being.

A four-time WNBA champion with the Houston Comets, Cooper-Dyke was named to “The W25,” a list of the league’s top 25 players of all time in celebration of its 25th season. Following her playing career, she began her college coaching career in 2005 at Prairie View A&M.

The Athletic’s investigation uncovered allegations that spanned three schools during Cooper-Dyke’s coaching career, beginning at UNC Wilmington in 2010. She also spent time at USC and most recently Texas Southern.

She retired from her position as head coach at Texas Southern in March after being investigated by the school’s Title IX office. During her final season, no-contact orders were issued to players, which prohibited them from talking with the coach or assistant coaches.

Cooper-Dyke’s Title IX hearing was scheduled for April 6, but shortly after her retirement, that meeting was canceled. Per Texas Southern’s policy, a Title IX complaint can be dismissed if “the Respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the University.”

At all three schools, Cooper-Dyke is said to have discussed her and her players’ sex lives. In her first stint at Texas Southern in 2012, she reportedly got on her knees and pretended to perform fellatio on a male assistant with players present.

In addition to the reported sexual comments, Cooper-Dyke also reportedly called players slurs and curse words. She asked an assistant coach at Texas Southern if she could send a player, who is the daughter of Haitian immigrants, “home on a boat” while the team was at a tournament in the Bahamas, the report said.

“She would talk to us like we were murderers in jail, if you know what I mean,” one player told The Athletic. “I’ve never had a coach that’s cussed at me like she did or said some of the things she would say.”

Cooper-Dyke also put players’ physical and mental health at risk, The Athletic reported. At UNC-Wilmington, she allegedly made a player do log rolls across the court for 30 minutes, causing the player to vomit and the skin on her knees to rub off. While at USC in 2013, she reportedly pressured injured players to return to practice before they were cleared to do so.

Thaddesia Southall, who played for Cooper-Dyke at USC in 2013-14, was kicked off the team when she tried to explain that she was unable to bend her knee and practice.

“Every time something comes across my Instagram, someone celebrating her, I want to scream,” she told The Athletic. “She does not stand for what the WNBA represents. She does not stand for what they are trying to promote. This is a woman who demeaned us, who talked to us like we were not human. She made me hate basketball, and no one did anything to stop her.”

Another person in the program described their depleted mental state. “Not a day went by that I didn’t think about taking my life and even had an idea to do it at Cynthia’s house so she could understand what a devastating impact she had on me,” the person said.

Multiple complaints were presented to officials at USC, but it wasn’t until complaints were made to newly appointed athletic director Lynn Swann during the 2016-17 season that any action was taken. After an investigation, Cooper-Dyke was faced with possible termination and resigned. The reason for her departure was not made public.

Cooper-Dyke was hired at Texas Southern in 2019.

“Nobody has said anything or done anything, just passed her off to the next school,” a USC player said. “This woman mentally and emotionally terrorized us.”

In a statement texted to The Athletic, Cooper-Dyke said that her “countless” interactions with a majority of her players have been “positive.”

“My only intention was to maximize players’ potential and help them be their best,” she wrote. “While these allegations are untrue, everyone deserves to work, play and learn in a respectful environment, and I deeply apologize for and regret any words used during the course of a spirited game or practice that offended or hurt someone.”

Katie Ledecky punches ticket to Paris, fourth Olympics

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 15: Katie Ledecky celebrates after winning the Women's 400 LC Meter Freestyle during the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Katie Ledecky is officially on to her fourth straight Olympics, punching her ticket to Paris in the 400-meter freestyle on Saturday. 

But Ledecky’s wasn’t the only name in the headlines in Indianapolis. Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh set a World Record in the 100-meter butterfly on Saturday in the semifinal. And roughly 24 hours later, she was an Olympian, taking first in the event. 

"I was definitely nervous," Walsh said. "There were a lot of what-ifs. Coming off breaking the world record, I was thinking, 'Do I need to do that again just to make the team? What if I get third? What's that even even going to look like?'"

She later added that she “couldn’t ask for a better start” to the meet. 

Both Torri Huske and Regan Smith were under the previous American record placing second and third respectively. But Smith, whose time would’ve won her silver at the Tokyo Olympics, won’t swim the event in Paris after placing third. 

And in front of a record crowd, 46-year-old Gabrielle Rose proved that age is just a number. She set a best time in the 100-meter breaststroke en route to advancing to the semifinals of the event. There, she finished in 10th place – and with another best time. 

“I’m just hoping to show people you can do more, you’re capable of doing more,” Rose, a two-time Olympian, said. “You can have more energy, you can have more strength than you thought was possible. I want women in particular to not be afraid to be strong, to lift weights, to take care of themselves and just know that they can have a lot more in the older chapters of their lives.”

WNBA’s Rookie of the Year race heats up

WASHINGTON, DC -  JUNE 6: Angel Reese #5 of the Chicago Sky and Aaliyah Edwards #24 of the Washington Mystics after the game on June 6, 2024 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA continues to make waves this season, with the 2024 rookie class continuing to impress. 

Sky forward Angel Reese has registered six straight double-doubles, tying the longest streak for a rookie even as Chicago skids to a four-game losing streak. It’s also tied for the most by a rookie in WNBA history alongside Tina Charles and Cindy Brown.

Reese is the only rookie to average a double-double this season. But Mystics rookie Aaliyah Edwards has been averaging near a double-double this month, as Washington rattled off two back-to-back wins after a franchise-worst 0-12 start.

Kamilla Cardoso has been solid in her start to the season, registering her first professional double-double on Sunday with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Caitlin Clark has had a solid month for the Fever, leading the rookies with an average of 14.0 points per game. On Sunday, she neared a triple-double with 23 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds in the Fever’s win over Chicago. 

And after an abysmal start amidst a tough stretch of games, the Fever have now won four out of their last six games, with last year's Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston getting into the groove with scoring.

In Los Angeles, rookie duo Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson have been putting together a solid season, with both netting 16 points apiece in the team’s loss to Atlanta on Sunday.

Those looking for a clear frontrunner for rookie of the year won’t get one: Clark (assists), Reese (rebounds, steals), and Brink (blocks) each currently sit in the top five league-wide in a number of key stats.

13th NWSL Match Weekend Dominated by Draws

NWSL Washington Spirit's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego Wave FC
Washington's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego. (Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL's weekend action brought with it no separation on the table, as five of the weekend's seven games ended in draws.

Three of those matches finished without a single goal, as Houston, Angel City, Orlando, North Carolina, Seattle, and Portland all came down to 0-0 draws. Only Gotham and Utah earned wins, with the New York/New Jersey side passing the Thorns to claim fourth place in the standings. 

For the Royals, the 1-0 win over Bay FC ends a 10-game winless streak. Utah now sits one point behind Seattle at the bottom of the table.

Despite the split points, two games did provide some fireworks by way of epic stoppage-time comebacks. Center back Sam Staab had her first goal in a Red Stars uniform, helping Chicago save a point in Kansas City in the 90th minute.

Washington also saved a result in the nick of time, as a masterful 96th-minute Croix Bethune strike got the best of talented Wave FC center-back Naomi Girma to finish things off at 1-1.

As for the Golden Boot leaderboard, only Temwa Chawinga managed to make a move on the leaderboard, with a goal against Chicago tying her with Orlando’s Barbra Banda for second.

Tobin Heath Details Injury Recovery Journey, Hints at Possible Return

Tobin Heath on the field for the USWNT in October 2021
Tobin Heath last played for the USWNT in October 2021. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

On the latest episode of the RE-CAP Show, USWNT star Tobin Heath revealed that she underwent a second knee surgery in her quest to return to the pitch. 

Heath hasn’t played since the 2022 NWSL season, when her tenure with then-OL Reign was cut short due to a knee surgery. A two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Champion, she hasn't addressed her playing career much over the last two years. 

In the latest RE-CAP Show episode, Heath revealed that she had to receive a cartilage transplant in her knee.

"I think it was public when I got my first knee surgery, which was actually just kind of a clean-out of the knee," Heath said. "I ended up trying to rehab back for about a year and got pretty close. I thought about signing for a team. At that time I didn’t think I was there enough with the knee to be able to commit fully to a team, because the way I play football is I’m all in — like I play to be at the highest level, I play to be winning World Cups, Olympics, club championships.

"And then obviously with that first surgery not helping, I got a second pretty big surgery with my knee that then put me in the category of like, 'Will I ever play professionally again?'"

Initially, Heath says she wasn’t aware of the gravity of the second surgery. But an examination of her knee revealed that she needed a more intensive repair than previously thought.

"When I got there, I thought I was going to be getting kind of like a smaller version of a surgery, and right before I got into surgery, there was kind of a big revelation about the current state of my knee that put me in the category to get a serious knee surgery. It was a cartilage transplant," Heath said.

While Heath said she hasn’t exactly closed the door on a potential return, she's currently focusing intently on rehab — with the future remaining unclear.

"I kind of just pray to God and say like, 'Whatever your will is for my career, that’s what it’s going to be,'" she added. "And I’ll just work my ass off and see where that gets."

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